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Game #55 Preview: Estrada vs Porcello

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Blue Jays (25-29) vs Red Sox (37-17)

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

After losing both Donaldson and the game yesterday afternoon, the Blue Jays look for better fortune this evening against the Red Sox in game two of their three game series. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marco Estrada takes his third crack at the Red Sox. In his first two, he allowed 9 runs in 11 innings, surrendering 15 hits but only 2 walks.

Estrada is the rare Blue Jays starter (he and Happ) that hasn’t struggled terribly with walks. Estrada’s problem, that has led to his 2-5 record and 5.40 ERA, has been the home runs. Through his first 10 starts and 55 innings, Estrada has surrendered 12 home runs, nearly 2 per 9 innings. He has been inducing flyballs at a career high rate, so his pretty much league average HR/FB rate isn’t even the culprit here. It’s the high quality of contact on so many fly balls. And if that doesn’t improve, then he’s going to have a hard time finding work this winter.

Red Sox Starter

2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello toes the rubber for the Red Sox. After a terrible follow up to his CY season in 2017 (league leader in losses, hits and home runs - and batters faced, so he was still healthy, just getting beat up to a 4.65 ERA), Porcello is looking a lot more like his 2016 self than the 2017 one. Through his first 11 starts, he has thrown 67.1 innings, going 6-2 with a 3.74 ERA. But his FIP, 2.91, is sitting at a career best, thanks to a career high strikeout rate (8.69 per 9 innings) coupled with a great walk rate (1.74 per 9 innings) and only 5 home runs.

In his only start against the Jays this year, Porcello went 7 strong innings. He allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, while also punching out 9. The Jays had the last laugh in that one though, as Curtis Granderson homered his way into the hearts of thousands in the 10th inning off Craig Kimbrel.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I doubt Josh Donaldson is going on the DL before the Jays leave Boston, so he’ll be on the bench for the next couple of days. Which means the bench likely consists of either Russell Martin or Luke Maile, plus Dwight Smith Jr.

I want to say that makes us thankful for Russell Martin’s versatility, and maybe I feel that way. I do like someone who can play multiple positions, I just wish it was someone who could maybe hit a bit better. But if Martin truly is going to get some time at 3B and in the outfield, maybe the time is now to call up Danny Jansen and let him get a dozen starts over the next 3 weeks with Martin and Maile around to mentor him.

Red Sox Lineup

They destroyed us yesterday without the presence of Mookie Betts, the baseball god who is currently hitting .359/.437/.750 (good for an MLB best 213 wRC+) with pretty much as many walks as strikeouts. If it wasn’t for Mike Trout, people would probably be talking about Betts a whole heck of a lot more, which is probably a bit of shame I guess. He truly is one of the best talents of this generation.

As for what their lineup will look like today? We will probably see Dustin Pedroia out at second base, the first time we’ll have to watch him this season. Betts might be back tonight as well, which might mean that Brock Holt won’t be in the game at all. As much as not having Holt in there is nice, I’d still rather him than Betts.

Yesterday’s Heroes

The Monster Bat was Anthony Rizzo, who went 3-4 with a home run and a walk while driving in 3 in the Cubs 7-0 win over the Pirates.

Matt Andriese came on with runners on first and second with none out in the bottom of the 9th inning of 0-0 game. He got out of that inning, and added two more perfect ones to help his Rays eventually win 1-0. That effort gave Andriese a .592 WPA and the title of WPA King.

Pitcher of the Day was Trevor Cahill, who went 8 shutout innings, while allowing only 4 hits and striking out 6. But he watched his A’s eventually lose to the Rays in 13 innings, as noted above.

Milestone Watch

Marco Estrada is a dozen strikeouts back of AJ Burnett for 19th all time as a Blue Jay. As much as I’d love for him to get there today, it’s not happening.

Josh Donaldson is probably not playing today, so I won’t mention his home run “chase”. But he did catch and pass Otto Velez and move into sole possession of 18th place on the franchise walk list.

Find the Link

Find the link between Porcello and the man with most Cy Young Awards in Phillies’ history (he actually did this link twice).